While most athletes - at least, on the surface - are perceived as serious, staunch and devoid of a humorous side, there's a good chunk of the professional sporting world that knows how to cut tension and get a rise (and a good laugh) out of teammates, coaches and spectators.
The art of pranking seems to have lost a bit of it's former lustre - it would appear players in this day and age are less inclined to pull a real "fast one" on their teammates. The common shaving cream in the cleats or cutting of laces is all good and well, but you'll rarely hear about a player or group of teammates ganging together on a poor unsuspecting soul and either infuriating the individual in question or scaring the life out of them.
Over the years, though, stalwarts of the pranking art have emerged across all professional sport. The legendary pranksters of past eras are long past their prime now, but we'd argue that if they were to come out of retirement, it should be to hoodwink another unsuspecting teammate rather than to don their old jerseys and return to the field of play.
Pranks in sport can take many forms - the classic equipment gags are always good for a hearty chuckle, but the best pranks were much more elaborate, thought out and probably a lot riskier and dangerous than the "standard" sporting prank.
We pay homage to those who've mastered the art of pranking and succeeded in pulling off masterful high jinks and shenanigans worthy of their own television program (move over, Ashton Kutcher).
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15 Jeff Gordon's "Test Drives"
Jeff Gordon is used to going fast - as one of NASCAR's top drivers, hitting ridiculously high speeds in a car is nothing foreign or necessarily scary for Gordon. For the average Joe, though, unexpectedly moving at 200 MPH is not something you want to be doing frequently (or at all). Jeff Gordon had a little fun with some unsuspecting folks while working with Pepsi - he would take someone for a "test drive", which happened to include drifting around corners and driving at breakneck speeds, before revealing himself to the startled victims.
14 A Blue Jays Wedding
Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett are better remembered for their dominance on the mound during their time together in Toronto than they were for being the clubhouse clowns. They found a way to earn the title, though, after pulled a fast one on teammates and good friend Aaron Hill and Russ Adams. The two had spent a lot of time hanging out during spring training, so the two hurlers had some fun at their expense by hiring a plane to fly the sign "Congratulations Aaron + Russ" to celebrate the fake nuptials.
13 Barkley Makes Bol Feel Like A Knucklehead
Charles Barkley and Manute Bol were teammates once upon a time with the Philadelphia 76ers, but Bol probably felt more inclined to give Barkley a good smack rather than a deft pass in this particular instance. Barkley and Bol were being filmed as Barkley was "cooking" for Bol - sort of like a celebrity cooking show. Barkley's main course, though, was intended to put a scare into Bol - under one of the platters on the table was the head of another teammate.
12 Ryan Dempster vs. Will Ohman
This entry on the list is interesting because Ryan Dempster and Will Ohman were involved in multiple pranks - warring against each other in jest over several years. Ohman struck first and tried to mess with Dempster (on a day Dempster was starting, no less) by super-gluing the zipper of Dempster's pants open and messing around with his shoelaces. The next day, Dempster got his revenge by leaving one of Ohman's car tires in the bullpen and sending Ohman on a search for the other three.
11 The Kyle Orton Helmet Gag
Kyle Orton rode off into the sunset last week, retiring from the NFL without much a legacy left behind as a starting quarterback (or backup, for that matter). Perhaps one of the more fond memories we will have of Orton was the time he was pranked by former Bears teammate Olin Kreutz, who pretended to ask for an autograph on a helmet for a family member. Orton happily obliged, but later realized that the helmet was in fact his own - he then had to wear the helmet with his own autograph on it while practicing.
10 Tom Brady GQ Prank
Tom Brady is often referred to as the Golden Boy of the NFL - the California born stud with the model wife, perfect American dream lifestyle and three Super Bowl rings. Of course, that has landed him on a lot of magazine covers over the years, including GQ - which give the men who keep him upright a chance to get a zinger in on their star QB. The entire Patriots offensive line taped pictures of Brady's GQ cover to their backs one practice many years ago, so that the entire session, every time Brady walked up to the line of scrimmage all he saw was his face on the GQ cover.
9 Billy Donovan
Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators might have pulled off the most "holy (expletive)" prank of the entire list. Donovan, who led the Gators to back-to-back NCAA national championships, was holding the trophy at a Gators rally when he "inadvertently" dropped the precious prize on stage, shocking the fans in attendance. The trophy ended up being a fake that was used for this prank specifically, but Donovan no doubt stopped a few hearts during that celebration.
8 Kent Bazemore's Popcorn Adventure
There's nothing quite like the old-but-gold "fill up one of the guy's car with a bunch of inconvenient and space-consuming nonsense that will take awhile to clean up" prank. Kent Bazemore was a victim of this last season, after his teammates filled his car with a exceptionally difficult-to-remove filling: popcorn. Bazemore was a rookie last season, so he probably knew something was coming, but I'm sure he didn't anticipate having to explain the smell of butter in his vehicle for the entire season.
7 Jeff Fisher "Blows Up" The Titans
At a glance, Jeff Fisher doesn't come off as the easiest going of men - he doesn't even come off as someone with a sense of humor. He can be quite the sly dog, though (evidenced by his major troll job against the Redskins and RGIII earlier in this year). Fisher lands on this list, though, for his masterful job of convincing the entire state of Tennessee that he had basically torn apart the Titans by trading away Steve McNair and Eddie George for essentially nothing.
6 Mark Cuban vs. The Referee
For the most part, April Fool's is the easiest day to sniff out a prank - unless they are shocking enough to wonder how a particular incident could be a prank. Mark Cuban managed to pull this off a few years ago when he pretended to get into it with an NBA official in the middle of the court during a game between his Dallas Mavericks and the (then) New Orleans Hornets. Cuban and the official got away with it initially, but it became clear fairly quickly that it was a setup - still, they got a good rise out of most viewers.
5 Yale Shows Harvard Who's Smarter
On the surface, the rivalries between Ivy League colleges stems from the intelectual battles - which school is ranked higher in educational lists, which school's average GPA is higher, etc. Even when the rivalries spill into sports, there's still a tinge of "who's smarter?" that factors into the equation. That was evident when Yale students brilliantly managed to get a Harvard student section to hold up a crowd-made sign that read "We Suck."
Well done, Yale. Well done.
4 Guy Lapointe: Car Thief Extraordinaire
Former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Guy Lapointe is one of the National Hockey League's most renowned pranksters of all-time. "Pointu" was known for his unparalleled pranking ability, which he showed off on a nearly daily basis. Perhaps his best prank, though, was executed when he "stole" teammate Mario Tremblay's new car. Tremblay, brimming with pride, brought his teammates out to see the shiny new ride, only to see that the car was gone - that's because Lapointe had grabbed the keys and moved the car to a higher level of the parking garage it had been left in. Only three days later (after the police had already started looking and an insurance claim was well in the works) did Tremblay find a note in his locker revealing the location of his precious car.
3 Ken Griffey Jr.'s Steak Dinner
Ken Griffey Jr. doesn't give the impression of being someone who'd try to pull a fast one, but he happened to pull off one of the better pranks in all of sports. Griffey Jr. had lost a bet to his manager, Lou Pinella, and thus had to pay up to his boss with a steak dinner. Griffey Jr. took the payment of the bet to a whole new level and had an entire live cow put in Pinella's office. Suffice to say Pinella was quite surprised when he opened his door and saw a cow in the middle of the room.
2 The Trade to Japan
The Fake Trade to Japan is one of the greatest sports pranks ever pulled. It's hard to fathom that the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick actually believed he was being traded to a team in a completely different league - let alone in a different country - but he went along with it for quite some time (maybe he was just being a good sport). Kendrick was informed that he was being traded to a Japanese team for Kobayashi Iwamura (a fictional pitcher), and was even forced to face the media before being told that it was all a hoax. Kendrick's reaction (one of extreme relief) is priceless.
1 The Rose Bowl Hoax
The Rose Bowl Hoax, pulled off by students at Caltech in 1961, is an all-time classic and earns the top spot on the list for it's creativity and because if was one of the first great coordinated sports pranks ever. The massive words "Caltech," a small technical college in Pasadena near the Rose Bowl, found its way into the flip-card image show of the Washington Huskies marching band during the halftime show - with millions watching around the world. The prank was dramatic, perfectly planned and masterfully executed, and showed that even the least likely of pranksters can strike at any time.
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